Note: Being without the time or money to visit all of these gorgeous ballparks, it has not been possible for me to personally take in a game at all of them. In fact, I have been to only two, maybe three, of these parks. The following observations, therefore, generally come from television viewings, fact-based Web pages, Google searches, and other heresy.
The Metrodome, Minnesota Twins
From the great amphitheaters of ancient Greece to the newly renovated retro ballparks of today, there has never been an uglier arena for sporting events. But fear not, sports lovers, the Baggy Dome might soon no longer house the Twinkies. Currently, there is a bill weaving its way through the state’s mini-government, trying to get approval for a new park. Of course, they’ve been trying to get a new one for years. Don’t hold your breath. Unless you’re inside the Metrodome, that is. It can’t possibly smell any good. I mean, look at it.
Olympic Stadium, Montreal Expos
Never an attractive stadium, the park has still been home to a visit from Pope John Paul II, a post-Wall Pink Floyd concert, four CFL Grey Cup games, and a Kids in the Hall touring company performance. As home to the Expos, however, the stadium has been known to draw up to sixty-three people a game. Viva la stade!
Shea Stadium, New York Mets
While in the historic Shea Stadium, make sure to visit the Piazza Beard Extravaganza, located directly behind the Budweiser Backstop on the third base side of the field level. The exhibit includes wax figurines of females that Piazza swears he “boinked” during his lifetime. The exhibit takes the place of the Annual “Not Gay” Declaration of Piazza, putting an end to any questions regarding his sexuality in a comical, and highly waxed, way.
Yankee Stadium, New York Yankees
Even though the park was established in 1923, the only real historic significance of Yankee Stadium is that it was the site of Josh Beckett’s complete-game shutout in Game Six in 2003. I think that’s all the history associated with the stadium … right?
Network Associates Coliseum, Oakland Athletics
This perfectly circular field is best known as both the home of Billy Beane’s computer-processing network and as a refuge to hundreds of geriatric football players, but its true eminence lies elsewhere. On October 15, 1981, “The Wave” made its first baseball appearance within this drab sphere’s walls. There is no joke here. Simply breathtaking radiance.
Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia Phillies
One of the two new ballparks unveiled this year, the latest home of the Phanatic is a far cry from the long-lambasted Vet Stadium. Some of the cutting-edge features include a six-foot bronze statue of Larry Bowa for fans and ex-players to spit on (no public urination allowed!), rooftop bleacher seats above the concessions building past the center-field gate, and a Doug Glanville-bobblehead factory. The park also makes use of space-age audio technology by angling the structure to aurally point into the Phillies dugout, allowing the citizens of Philadelphia an easier, and louder, system for voicing their constant disapproval via the timeless “Boo!”
PNC Park at North Shore, Pittsburgh Pirates
Prenatal Care Park has an outfield wall that rises up to twenty-one feet (in honor of the legendary Pirate Roberto Clemente), an Outback Steakhouse, and a voting booth for fans to pick which heavily regarded Pirates prospect will be given to the Cubs this year. It also currently houses the Best Hair in All of Baseball, Mr. Craig Wilson. In fantasy leagues, he has catcher eligibility. Can you hear me, Hulkamaniacs?!?! Catcher eligibility!!!
PETCO Park, San Diego Padres
The second baby ballpark this year, and site of “one hell of a” PETA protest, cost a pretty penny ($458 million) to build. As a revenue-saving solution, management decided to push back the power-alley fences, putting an end to home runs and, more importantly, to lost souvenir balls to the fans. Well done!
Pac Bell Park, San Francisco Giants
Seriously, if Todd Hundley can hit one into McCovey Cove, how hard can it be? Bonds is a sham!
Safeco Field, Seattle Mariners
Best Safeco ground rule: If the retractable roof is open at the beginning of the game, it can be closed during the game. However, if the roof if closed at the beginning of the game, it cannot be opened in the middle of the game. Mull that one over while checking out Jamie Moyer’s (pronounced Moi-eur’s) state-of-the-art wheelchair, located behind the Hit It Here Café, in right field.
Busch Stadium, St. Louis Cardinals
Named for the greatest beer ever to inhabit my local trailer park, the stadium does not shy away from other controversial liquid dispensing. From the Cardinals website: “A mother may breast-feed her child in any public location where she is otherwise authorized to be.” This might be due to the Missouri age-of-consent laws more than anything else (fourteen if you’re eighteen; seventeen if you’re twenty-one). Breed on, my Missourian brothers and sisters!
Tropicana Field, Tampa Bay Devil Rays
Don’t be frightened if you happen to be driving down One Tropicana Drive and notice a bright orange hue shining out from the Tropicana Field dome. It’s not aliens. It’s either nuclear waste, a rare Devil Ray home victory, or Lou Pinella trying out a new hair dye. Of course, it could be a sign that Don Zimmer needs to use his complimentary tubes of Preparation H. If that’s the case, run for the hills!
Ameriquest Field in Arlington, Texas Rangers
Among the seasonal jobs currently available: security officer, usher, team captain, and ticket taker. Two forms of ID are required for employment verification. Sorry, Dominican birth certificates are inadmissible!
SkyDome, Toronto Blue Jays
For those frisky Canadian couples who enjoy coitus while viewing a real-life ballgame, the SkyDome Hotel offers seventy rooms overlooking the playing field. And put those conversion calculators away, Americans—they do take U.S. currency.